This is book 20 in the In Death
series, and while the books can be read in no particular order, and as stand alone mysteries, I suspect you'd have more fun if you started with some of the earlier books, or at the beginning with [b:Naked in Death|1855021|Naked in Death (In Death, #1)|J.D. Robb|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348101758s/1855021.jpg|1097497].
9-year-old Nixie Swisher sneaks down into the kitchen to grab a forbidden midnight snack, and in so doing, is the only survivor after two masked men slit the throats of everyone else in the house. The housekeeper, her parents, her brother and her friend who's visiting for a sleepover are all coldly and efficiently assassinated. Lt. Eve Dallas and her partner Delia Peabody take charge of the case, and to make sure the girl is safe, Eve goes over the heads of child protective services and brings the child home with her.
There is no apparent motive for the killings. The security in the house was expertly disabled, and the murderers were in and out of the house in less than ten minutes, suggesting military training of some sort. Once the killers discover that they left someone alive, they're determined to finish the job. Eve's decision to house the child witness in Roarke's impregnable mansion keeps her safe, but spending time with the traumatised child brings to the surface painful memories from her own past and her own early experiences with death.
This month (February) is In Death
month on Vaginal Fantasy Hangout. Having read the first books more than once, I decided to just read new ones in the series, and when looking through the list, realised that I'd skipped this one entirely. Not that it matters that much once you get this far into the series, as all the major supporting characters are pretty much established, and you can jump in at any point without being too confused.
It's always fun seeing Eve out of her comfort zone, and having a young girl around is certainly one of those occasions. Luckily, trusted manservant Summerset (and the thorn in Eve's side) and a host of police officers are around to entertain the girl while Roarke tries to to find out who can take care of her once the case is solved, and Eve and Peabody work diligently to crack the case and find out who's behind the vicious murders.
While all the books are formulaic to a certain extent, and if you've read a few of these, you're pretty sure what you're going to get in each book, some of them are more entertaining than others. Letting the reader see what Nixie sees at the beginning of the book, and making us sympathetic with the child is a nice touch, and the grief that Nixie has to face, and the growth it brings on in Eve made this book one of the more enjoyable in the series for me so far.